Total Knee Replacement

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By Steve Lally, PT, Atlantic Physical Therapy Centersteve lally

Arthritis of the knee can cause pain, swelling, and dysfunction of the knee joint. This pain and disability often can lead many patients to a total knee replacement. Most replacements are performed only after other options have been explored including medication, rest, injections, physical therapy and arthroscopic surgery.

An estimated 600,000 total knee replacements are performed worldwide each year. These individuals are looking for pain relief, improved mobility and a positive impact on their quality of life.

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Once surgery is performed, physical therapy starts from day one. Whether it is in the hospital, rehabilitation center, or at home, it is important to start the process of reducing pain and swelling and starting on the road to recovery. Outpatient physical therapy is initiated once you are cleared by your physician.

For most patients 1-3 months of physical therapy is needed to reduce symptoms and restore function. Rehabilitation exercise and treatment will focus on swelling and pain reduction,along with restoring range of motion and strengthening the involved knee and lower extremity. Manual therapy techniques may also be administered to achieve functional goals. Home exercises should also be performed daily.

In general, knee movement is expected to be zero to 125 degrees of flexion. Strength and stability are expected to return patients back to normal levels of walking, driving, biking, climbing/descending stairs, swimming, and golf. Patients range of motion and activity levels may vary based on limitations before surgery. Full recovery is expected within 3-6 months with continued exercise and activity levels to optimize strength and endurance.

It is important to note, that both the therapist and the patient work together in setting and achieving goals. Having a positive attitude, working hard and being persistent during your therapy is key to reaching your goals and regaining function. Remember, the main goal is to reduce pain and increase mobility to improve your quality of life.

For more information check out our total knee replacement video and have a great summer!

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